For the Michigan Wolverines hockey team, there’s no margin for error if they want to make the NCAA Tournament. Against the No. 6 seed Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals over the weekend, the No. 3 Wolverines played as good as they have all season long. Two wins, two shutouts, six goals, and a laser sharp focus.
The Wolverines defense was as good as it has been all season long, and the tremendous goal-tending from Strauss Mann gave Michigan the edge it needed on Friday and Saturday. Michigan beat MSU on Friday and Saturday 3-0 each night. “This was probably the best defense we have played all year,” Mann said. “I don’t know how many Grade A’s I faced, but it wasn’t a lot this weekend. People are hyped up about the shutouts, but I was just trying to play like how I do all year. Honestly, it was probably one of the easier weekends I have had to face all year.”
The Wolverines are set to take on another rival, the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals on March 15 at 5:30 P.M. in a single elimination showdown. The tilt will take place at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Michigan was 1-3 vs. Ohio State in the regular season.
Despite the tough semifinals matchup, the 18-14-4 Wolverines are currently ranked No. 13 in the Pairwise Rankings. With a win over the Buckeyes next Sunday, there’s a chance the Wolverines will make the NCAA Tournament even if they don’t win the Big Ten Tournament Championship. However, if Michigan was able to win the B1G tourney, they’d automatically punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. If Michigan advances to the Big Ten Championship, they’d play the winner of the semifinal between No. 1 Penn State and either No. 4 Minnesota or No. 5 Notre Dame on March 21.